Wanda M. Waller

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Identify components of an effective introduction, body, and conclusion
  • Organize essays with an effective introduction, body, and conclusion

What Is Arrangement?

Arrangement is the organization and structure of ideas in your essay. Choosing the right structure depends on the application of critical thinking for your purpose. At times, the arrangement is specified by an assignment or suggested by clues for a given topic. However, all essays, regardless of the pattern of development, should have an introduction, body, and conclusion.

The Introduction

The introduction is the first paragraph of an essay and plays an important role in writing an effective paper. The goals of the introduction are to introduce the topic, to provide background about the topic, and to establish the main idea, purpose, and direction. The introduction has three essential parts, each of which serves a particular purpose: the hook, relevant background, and thesis statement.

  • The HookThe hook engages your reader’s interest. It can be in the form of a question, a quote, an anecdote or story, an interesting fact, or an original definition.
  • Relevant Background—Background information creates context by providing a brief overview. This information helps readers see why you are focusing on the topic and transitions them to the main point of your paper.
  • Thesis StatementThe thesis statement expresses the overall point and main ideas that will be discussed in the body. It usually appears as the last sentence of the introduction and is usually one sentence.

What NOT to do in an introduction

  • Do not apologize. Avoid phrases such as “in my opinion” or “I may not be an expert but…” These phrases imply that you really don’t know your topic.
  • Do not announce what you intend to do. Never begin with phrases such as “In this paper I will…” or “The purpose of this essay is to…” Your introduction should establish the intention and purpose of the essay.
  • Do not begin with a dictionary definition. Avoid beginning your essay with phrases such as “According to Webster’s Dictionary…” This method is overused and unoriginal. Create your own to show a relevant context for your essay.
  • Do not be too vague. Avoid irrelevant comments and digressions. Stay focused.


The body paragraphs are a collection of paragraphs related to your topic that provide supporting evidence for your thesis statement. Each body paragraph should be unified, coherent, and well-developed with a specific pattern of development. A paragraph is unified when each sentence relates directly to the main idea of the paragraph which is stated in the topic sentence. A paragraph is coherent if the sentences are logically connected. Coherence can be accomplished by repeating key words and using transitions to show logical sequence. Review the attached list of transitional words and phrases.

Body paragraphs should contain three structural components: the topic sentence, supporting sentences, and the concluding sentence.

  • Topic SentenceThe topic sentence is usually the first sentence in the paragraph. It indicates what the paragraph will discuss and guides the writer and reader. The writer will know what information to include or exclude, and the reader will understand what the paragraph will discuss.
  • Supporting SentencesSupporting sentences provide examples or facts to support the topic sentence.
  • Concluding SentenceThe concluding sentence summarizes the information to show unity within the paragraph.

What NOT to include in the body paragraphs

  • Do not include irrelevant information. Material that does not relate to the thesis should be deleted.
  • Do not include general or vague information. Specific examples, clear reasons, and precise explanations communicate your ideas to readers
  • Do not under-develop supporting details. Determining how much support is needed depends on the scope of your thesis statement, audience, and purpose. 


The conclusion is the final paragraph of the essay and plays an important role in writing an effective paper. The conclusion should reinforce your thesis statement and purpose by reiterating the thesis statement and providing a sense of completeness about the essay’s topic. An effective conclusion will summarize your essay and provide a final comment about your topic. There are several strategies that are helpful in writing a conclusion:

  • Review key points
  • Link the concluding paragraph to the introduction by reiterating a word or phrase
  • Recommend a course of action
  • Cite a relevant quotation
  • Predict a logical outcome 

Strategies for writing an effective conclusion

One or more of the following strategies may help you write an effective conclusion.

  • Play the “So what” game. If you’re stuck and feel like your conclusion isn’t saying anything new or interesting, ask a friend to read it with you. Whenever you make a statement from your conclusion, ask the friend to say, “So what?” or “Why should anybody care?” Then ponder that question and answer it.
  • Return to the theme or themes in the introduction. This strategy brings the reader full circle. For example, if you begin by describing a scenario, you can end with the same scenario as proof that your essay is helpful in creating a new understanding. You may also refer to the introductory paragraph by using key words or parallel concepts and images that you also used in the introduction.
  • Synthesize, don’t summarize. Include a brief summary of the paper’s main points, but don’t simply repeat things that were in your paper. Instead, show your reader how the points you made and the support and examples you used fit together. Pull it all together.
  • Include a provocative insight or quotation from the research or reading you did for your paper.
  • Propose a course of action, a solution to an issue, or questions for further study. This can redirect your reader’s thought process and help her to apply your info and ideas to her own life or to see the broader implications.
  • Point to broader implications.

What NOT to do in a conclusion

  • Do not repeat the exact wording of the thesis statement. The thesis statement should be restated in a new way.
  • Do not introduce new points. Your conclusion should reinforce points you have already discussed in your essay.
  • Do not end with an unnecessary announcement. Avoid phrases such as “in conclusion,” “in summary,” or “to sum up.” The tone of your conclusion should signal that you are drawing to a close.

Your Turn

Consider your most recent writing assignment. Determine if you engaged your reader with an engaging hook. Did you have a thesis statement that discussed the overall point of your essay? Did you create topic sentences for each paragraph? Did your conclusion provide a sense of completeness about the essay’s topic?

Key Terms

  • Arrangement
  • Introduction
  • Thesis statement
  • The hook
  • Topic sentences
  • Supporting sentences
  • Conclusion

Reflective Response (Optional)

Review your arrangement for a writing assignment. What revisions in arrangement would you consider in your paper? Why?



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Writing Rhetorically: Framing First Year Writing Copyright © 2022 by Wanda M. Waller is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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